Fall apple salad with beets, lentils, red onions and curried chutney dressing is one of the liveliest salads I make every fall. It was inspired by young beets again appearing at the farmers market and vegetable drawers overflowing with apples from our annual apple picking outing. Truth is since our kids outgrew apple outings years ago my husband and I don’t pick the apples anymore. My somewhat obsessive routine now is to visit eight different apple houses to make sure I get every single variety of apple grown in a town called Ellijay; aka in Georgia as apple orchard alley! My husband is done after two stops but chugs along with me and does his best to feign interest in the kitchy folksy vibe at all the apple houses. The warm apple hand pies and cider donuts make the trip somewhat bearable for him.
The curried chutney dressing can be made with any chutney you buy, including the ubiquitous Major Grey’s found in the condiment section of the grocery store. I use whatever fruit I’ve recently made into chutney. My recent favorite is my spicy sweet plum chutney.
Lentils add not only flavor and texture, but a healthy amount of protein and fiber as well as plenty of other vitamins and minerals. For best taste, I take the extra time to use dried lentil pulses and cook them. (Directions are in the recipe).
This salad is endlessly forgiving and can be adjusted to your taste. It’s essentially an apples salad with other flavors added, but equal parts beets and/or lentils can make it a more equally proportioned if you like. The salad also tastes richer the day after being made when it becomes a bit more of a marinated fruit and vegetable salad. I often double the recipe so I can eat it every day for lunch the week I make it!
Fall Apple Salad with Beets, Lentils, Red Onions and Curried Chutney Dressing
Serves 6 as a small side salad and 4 as a main course
Curry Chutney Dressing
¼ cup chutney of your choice (I use my homemade plum chutney)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbs red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar can be substituted)
1 Tbs Madras mild curry powder
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs minced ginger
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
pinch cayenne pepper
Puree all ingredients in food processor until smooth. If you want to keep chutney texture in vinaigrette puree all ingredients except chutney in food processor. Place in small bowl and mix in chutney.
3 cups (~1 pound) apples cut into ½” dice
2 cups(~1 pound) roasted beets cut into ½“ dice
½ cup thinly sliced red onions
1 ½ cup cooked lentils
2 cups washed small spinach leaves
1) To cook beets: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash 1 pound beets and lightly oil with olive oil. Wrap beets in heavy duty aluminum foil and roast for about 40 to 50 minutes or until soft enough to easily run a knife through. Remove and cool. With paper towels rub the skin off the beets before using.
2) To cook lentils: In medium saucepan place ½ cup lentils and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until lentils are softened but still hold shape. Drain.
3) To assemble salad: In large bowl add cut apples, beets, sliced red onions, cooked lentils, and washed spinach. Add enough dressing to coat salad. I use my hands to gauge how much dressing is needed, but a spoon can be used to gently incorporate the dressing. Alternatively, the spinach can be used to line the serving plate for the salad and not mixed with the salad.